If we try to attain wisdom without cultivating the precepts, we will not succeed. Holding the precepts means making sure that our words accord with our actions and our actions reflect our words. Wherever we are, we should abide by the rules and not break them.
The precepts are the rules of conduct for left-home people. Why are there so many rules? Because as laypeople, we didn't follow the rules. So, once we leave the home-life, there has to be a system of rules and regulations. If we don't follow the rules, we won't attain samadhi. If our upholding of precepts and samadhi is not complete, then there's absolutely no way we can obtain genuine wisdom. Any wisdom we might have would only be an artificial kind of worldly knowledge and cleverness in debate or a petty intelligence that enables us to always find shortcuts and crooked ways. This cannot be considered genuine wisdom, but merely something fraudulent, characteristic of ghosts.
If a person has genuine wisdom, he won't be afraid to take a loss or to be swindled in a deal. If he can completely understand any affair at a single glance, and doesn't have deviant knowlege and deviant views, he has true wisdom.
The one thing that ordinary people are incapable of doing is cutting off love and desire. Why can't they do it? They lack true wisdom and are dominated by their ignorance and stupidity. If they had genuine wisdom, they would be able to solve their problems quickly and easily.
A talk given in the evening of October 17, 1983